Skip to content

More Than a List: How a Children’s Book List Can Be a Walk Down Memory Lane

May 21, 2019

We all have our favourite children’s books – those we loved as youngsters and those we have shared with our own children. What’s your favourite children’s book, the one embedded in your heart for all time?

Booklovers and booklists go hand-in-hand. There is great pleasure in working your way through a list, acknowledging the books you’ve read, and the memories they bring up – where you read each book, who was there, how you felt. Then you choose what other books you’d like to read from the list, because it’s more than a list… it’s an inspiring portal of possibilities.

This year, the Better Reading Top 100 has been more popular than ever, and now with the launch of voting for the Top 50 Kids’ Books, we’re excited to see what titles you, our Better Reading community nominates.

Our 2018 list was a fantastic range of classics, such as Charlotte’s Web and Anne of Green Gables, to modern bestsellers such as Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and Peter Helliar’s Frankie Fish.

For me, last year’s list is a poignant trip through time, from my own childhood, to raising my sons… to the titles I haven’t read… or more than that, haven’t experienced because my sons are now young adults.

As a child, The Magic Faraway Tree sparked my imagination more than any other book. I must’ve read it one hundred times. But there were so many more… many on the Top 50. The Secret Garden reminds me of how I’d spend hours in my grandmother’s garden re-creating this childhood favourite. Playing Beatie Bow both disturbed me and triggered a fascination with Sydney’s early colonial history. The Cat in the Hat, and in fact all Dr Seuss titles, remind me of my brother, who unlike me wasn’t a big reader, but adored these wonderful books.  And has there ever been a better opening of any book for children, than in Seven Little Australians?

BEFORE you fairly start this story, I

should like to give you just a word of


 If you imagine you are going to read of

model children, with perhaps a naughtily-

inclined one to point a moral, you had better

lay down the book immediately and betake

yourself to Sandford and Merlon, or similar

standard juvenile works. Not one of the

seven is really good, for the very excellent

reason that Australian children never are.

In my young mind, that opening confirmed that I was normal and Australian.

Next up are the titles my children loved. I had more time with my firstborn to persist with the classics. Winnie the Pooh, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie… Anything by Roald Dahl. I see Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and remember the trip I took with my son to her home town of Concord, Massachusetts, and the time he went trick or treating in New York dressed as Peter Pan, holding his copy of the book.

And then son number two, with his reluctance to read, which was later found to be dyslexia. He still loved books, only his were few and far between. Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the audio book of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. These firm favourites were read over and over, because he could understand them.

Looking over last year’s list is like taking a walk down memory lane. It’s the passing of time on one Top 50 kids’ book list.

What are your favourite books? What book are you voting for? Make sure you add your vote… and in the meantime… I’ll just grab a tissue and get ready to look at the new list.


  1. Jan Dickie

    Wish for a Pony, The Cub and the Billabong books.
    Muddleheaded Wombat, Faraway tree.

  2. Merrilie Rowley

    The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge and Gobbolino The Witches Cat – Ursula Moray Williams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *